Custom software is the only type of business software that is scalable, as it can grow or shrink with a company’s evolution. This is because custom software will be designed and developed exclusively for a single company or group. Once the project is delivered and fully paid for this company will own the software and its IP (intellectual property rights). Meaning their software can evolve in line with their business growth as requests for new features and modifications are in their control.
Why is custom the only business software that is scalable?
To understand this, we first need to explore the differences between the two main types of business software, custom (also known as bespoke) and ready-made (also known as ‘off-the-shelf’).
Custom business software
- What is it? It is business software that is developed exclusively for an individual company or group. The software is therefore unique and will have some specific elements that are only relevant to the client’s business.
- When is it developed? The software’s production process only starts after a client approaches a software development company with their idea. After initial consultations development will only begin if the client agrees to the project’s proposal.
- Who develops it? A software development company that specialises in developing tailored software. Most bespoke software houses do not create their own software products.
- Who owns the IP (intellectual property rights)? The IP will be owned by the client (the company that commissioned the software). This happens once the project is delivered and all payments due are completed. Once released the client will be able to distribute the software as desired.
- When are updates and additions developed and released? Updates and additions are totally in the control of the client as they are the owner of the software.
Ready-made business software
- What is it? It is business software that is developed for a general audience. The software is therefore generic but is sometimes built around a given industry sector.
- When is it developed? The developers of ready-made business software will come up with an idea they think will appeal to a general audience. They may have spotted a gap in the market or feel they could make a more competitive product. The development will only begin if the development company decide they have a viable, saleable product.
- Who develops it? A software development company that specialises in building generic software products. They may have several on the market within different industry sectors.
- Who owns the IP (intellectual property rights)? The company that develops the software will own the IP. The software is usually sold on a licensed basis, either as a one-off payment or as a subscription. Licensees will not be able to distribute the software without permission, as they do not own it. Many businesses who purchase the software, have multiple users and this generally comes with additional license fees.
- When are updates and additions developed and released? The developers of the software will decide when new features or modifications will be available. This could mean license holders, have long waits for new features they require or they may never receive them.
An exploration of why custom software is scalable
The main reason why custom business software is the only type of scalable business software is that it is unique and owned by an individual company or group. This means that during and after release the client can request new features or modifications as required.
Ready-made business software is generic and tries to appeal to a wide range of different businesses. As many companies are using the same software, new features are often not possible when a licensee needs them, if at all. This is because these needs may conflict with established elements or the developers might judge them to be too niche to be a worthwhile investment. This leaves licensed customers, at the mercy of the development company. These customers often find themselves searching for alternate software products when their businesses expand. At this time many companies consider employing a custom software solution.
Being in control of your company’s software system additions and updates is essential for a growing business. With a bespoke software system, the commissioning company is in control, not the original developers. This is especially important if the developers choose to stop developing the product or are no longer in business. This often happens with ready-made software and can also happen with a bespoke solution. In the latter case, another software house can take over the system to advance and maintain it.
In our experience
We have found that freelance sole developers for various reasons often struggle to maintain the software, after its initial release. Here are a few of the reasons why this may happen: the original developer may become overworked; may no longer be trading; could have moved onto other projects or the project size has become too large for them to handle. The BSPOKE team have advanced and maintained several projects originally started by another developer.
An aside – Does custom software tailor to an industry sector?
Yes, when developing custom software it is also necessary to take into account the particulars of the industry sector to which a company belongs. As part of your software consultation our team will aim to get to know you, your business and your team if required, we will also explore with you your company’s industry domain. Check out some of the industries we have already worked with.
We have found that some of our clients, struggle to understand how software can scale with their business. Many of these clients have spent years wrestling with the constraints imposed by ready-made business software. This difficulty inspired this article and we hope it has helped to explain this topic in an understandable way.
If you’re looking for a scalable business software solution, please get in touch.